“CE” and “BCE” vs. “AD” and “BC”?

The Gregorian calendar is the global standard for the measurement of dates. Despite originating in the Western Christian tradition, its use has spread throughout the world and now transcends religious, cultural and linguistic boundaries. As most people are aware, the Gregorian calendar is based on the supposed birth date of Jesus Christ. Do they mean the same thing, and, if so, which should we use? This article provides an overview of these competing systems. The idea to count years from the birth of Jesus Christ was first proposed in the year by Dionysius Exiguus, a Christian monk.

What is the meaning of BC and AD? And what does BCE and CE mean?

As abbreviations for Before the Common Era BCE and Common Era CE , they do not specifically privilege Christianity the criticism of using “BC” and “AD” and instead simply make reference to the fact that we are living in an era shared in common between Christianity and other religions—though Christianity and Judaism are the two religions usually in mind. Here are the facts. The tradition in the West is to base the count of our years around the alleged time when Jesus would have been born.

Every year since his birth is “A.

Now You Know: When Did People Start Saying That the Year Was ‘A.D.’? Systems of dating before B.C./A.D. was fully adopted were often based era”) and C.E. (“common era”) instead of B.C. and A.D.—especially in the.

By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy , Privacy Policy , and our Terms of Service. History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It only takes a minute to sign up. Currently we use Anno Domini A. What was the prevailing method of dating years in Western culture before this system came into use?

Prior to the adoption of the Anno Domini system, the main system of naming years was to refer to them as a given regnal year of the local ruler, or of a dominant nearby ruler eg. Specifically in Roman-dominated areas, the year was named after the two Consuls who took office that year. In a sense, Anno Domini is simply an extension of this, counting years of the “reign” of Jesus Christ.

If the Anno Domini system hadn’t been adopted, the United States might refer to the current date as “December 13 of the sixth year of the Obama Presidency”, while the British would describe it as “December 13 of the 62nd year of the reign of Elizabeth II”. This answer-comment was originally posted as a comment when the post was locked and no open for questions.

The use of Anno Domini “in the year of our Lord” was first used in narrative history by Bede although it had been used very slightly in some annals before that. It was invented, more or less, by Dionysus Exiguus circa —

CE and BCE

My claim to fame? As a White House speech writer, I had a hand in writing the text on the plaque marking the spot where Apollo 11 astronauts first set foot on the moon. To slip in an unobtrusive reference to God, I wrote, ”July A. My mistake was putting the A.

The western-style year dating convention commonly used in many parts of to substitute for “BC,” and “CE” (for “Common Era”) to replace “AD.

Conversion Converting dates in the calendar we use into Roman dates is tricky and involves some degree of compromise. The Roman calendar was altered many times as errors in previous calendars were corrected and political considerations led to compromises in those changes. So whether it is the day, the month or the year we convert into ‘Roman’ the final result may end up overall as something a Roman would not recognise.

If you want to know something of the history of the calendar read on. If you just want a potted version and instructions on converting dates go to the conversion pages. History Many things about the Roman calendar are still the subject of dispute. The original sources for the information are few. This guide is based on the best evidence and modern scholarship but it may be wrong in some details. There is a list of sources at the end and reading them will give some idea as to the problems.

However, what is presented here is a coherent and self-consistent version which is close to the truth. The year In the early days, Romans denoted years by the names of the two Consuls who ruled each year and that system continued long after other ways of denoting the year were used. Later they began to count the years from the foundation of the City of Rome. There is no single agreed date for that but a Roman writer Marcus Terentius Varro fixed the date as what we would call BC and that is the standard I shall use here.

Romans used the letters AUC after these dates in Latin ab urbe condita – from the foundation of the city.

FAQ: What is the difference between A.D. and C.E., and B.C. and B.C.E.?

The continuing use of AD and BC is not only factually wrong but also offensive to many who are not Christians. What year is it? This most basic of historical questions yields no universal answer.


This method of numbering years, although still in widespread use, makes it difficult to perform simple arithmetic operations on years. A calendar using the astronomical system numbers years in a fundamentally different way from the traditional Gregorian Calendar. Dates with years so numbered should have a suffix to distinguish them from dates with years numbered in some other way.

The astronomical year numbering system may also be used with calendars other than the proleptic Gregorian Calendar, provided some suffix is used to identify the calendar. Thus, e. To convert a year B. To convert a negative year CE to B. The astronomical year numbering system is used in all dates both as input and as displayed in all Hermetic Systems calendrical software though the Julian-Gregorian-Dee Date Calculator program handles dates with both systems of year numbering.

The term “Common Era Calendar” is used in all articles on this website, and in all calendrical software user manuals, to mean that calendar which has the same structure days, months, years as the proleptic Gregorian Calendar and in which years are numbered according to the astronomical system. Dates in this calendar are always designated “CE”.

Comparison with Date Convention Used by Fred Espenak In his web pages giving lunar eclipse dates Fred Espenak uses as does this website the astronomical year numbering system, as explained above.

Common questions about dates

Hey Jesus, what year is it? I’m writing this on May 17, At its core, that date—any date really—is just a code. It’s a three-part system allowing those in various locations and points of time to distinguish when an event occurred or will occur. The first two parts—the month and date—have had a legion of originators, from Cro-Magnon astronomers marking phases of the moon on their eagle bones, to Mayan mystics tracking the movements of the stars from their forest canopies. The and-change-day calendar we use is the result of scientific sweat, an attempt to bring us to a Verifiable Truth regarding how long it takes the Earth to complete one rotation around the sun.

Q. To mark dates, why are people now using C.E. (the Common Era) of C.E. rather than A.D. (“In the year of Our Lord” or “Anno Domini”) is to.

In almost all archaeology books and articles the authors use dates. This is the Christian era in the Gregorian calendar, starting from 1 AD as the year in which Christ was believed to have been born. The date was calculated about years after the event, so was a broad estimate. If lower case letters are used, this often means that the date is based on an uncalibrated radiocarbon date see below for date calibrations. Battle of Hastings was in CE.

First used almost years ago, it has become especially popular from the late twentieth century to emphasise secularism or sensitivity to non-Christians. This signifies the pre-Christian era in the Gregorian calendar. This runs backwards from 1 BC. The use of BP by archaeologists, geologists, and other scientists, refers to radiocarbon ages and results from other radiometric dating techniques.

Radiometric dating techniques are those that provide absolute dates based on the decay of radioactive isotopes.

Should We Use BC/AD or BCE/CE for Dating Years? (B.C./A.D. or B.C.E./C.E.)

This system was devised by a monk, Dionysius Exiguus, back in the year A. He used the presumed year of Jesus’ birth as a starting point. Unfortunately, since then, scholars have discovered that Jesus was actually born around B. Nonetheless, he believed that the birth and life of Jesus were the “turning points” in world history, and that the world should forever commemorate that moment. A mere two centuries after Dionysius, a monk known as Venerable Bede introduced a Latin term that is roughly translatable as “before Christ” to identify the years preceding Jesus’ birth.

The terms AD, BC, BCE, and CE are all used to keep track of historical dates. AD is short for the Latin term “anno Domini,” which means “in the year of the Lord​.

Anno Domini was the first of these to appear. This was supposedly in part a response to advice Diocletian received at the oracle of Apollo at Didyma. Previous to this, he had purportedly only advocated banning Christians from such things as the military and ruling body in hopes that would appease the gods. Afterward, he switched to an escalating policy of persecution to try to get Christians to worship the Roman gods. When this sort of thing was ineffective, they progressed to arresting and torturing Christians, starting with the leaders.

This method of convincing people to worship the Roman gods ended up being an amazing failure and the persecution appears to have only continued after AD in the Eastern half of the empire under Galerius and Maximinus.

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